WASHINGTON (AP) — US President Donald Trump called Wednesday for his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, to end special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe of Russia’s election intervention, a day after Trump’s former campaign chairman went on trial.
Taking to Twitter to complain about the federal Russia investigation, which focuses on the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump said Sessions “should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.”
The relationship between Sessions and the president has been strained for more than a year, since the attorney general recused himself from investigations relating to the election because of Sessions’ own role on the Trump campaign. Mueller’s team is accountable to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Tuesday marked the first day of Paul Manafort’s trial on charges of tax evasion and bank fraud brought by Mueller’s team, charges that stemmed from Manafort’s consulting work for Ukraine, for which he allegedly received millions he did not report to the US government.
Seeking to distance himself from his ex-campaign chairman, Trump said, “He worked for me for a very short time.”
But Manafort’s involvement in the Trump campaign spanned six months, and he helped lead efforts to secure the GOP nomination for Trump in 2016.
Trump asked whether his former top political aide was being treated worse than Al Capone, tweeting that Manafort is “now serving solitary confinement – although convicted of nothing?” Capone, the infamous gangster, was convicted of tax evasion and served most of the 1930s in prison before being paroled.
Manafort is in detention after having his bail revoked because of allegations that he was attempting to tamper with witnesses in his case. Federal prosecutors revealed last month that he was afforded unusual privileges while in detention.
Trump said the charges against Manafort “have nothing to do with Collusion.”
Potential coordination between Russian government agents and the Trump campaign is still a matter of investigation by Mueller’s team, which is also investigating potential obstruction of justice by the president. Trump called any talk of collusion “a Hoax.”